For Parents What Is Your IDEAL Team Program?

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JBS

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Sep 3, 2005
7,219
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Over the years on ChalkBucket and in gymnastics in general I have noticed that what is ideal to one person / family is not at all ideal for another.

What is your ideal competitive program?​


What are the most important things for you and your athlete / family?​


Fun & safe are going to be assumed in this thread so they are not listed below. Feel free to talk about them in your response if you have something that you need to say about them.

I'll post some factors here...
  • Cost
  • Workout hours
  • Workout time of day
  • Location
  • Progress / Skills
  • Experience of coaches
  • Results / Winning
  • Communication
  • Size of team / Number of athletes at each level
  • Scholarship history
  • Coaches willingness to learn
  • Gym atmosphere
  • Coach / athlete ratio
  • Productivity of workouts
  • I will add more when they come up in the conversation

Let's hear your opinion!​

 
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gymgal

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Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,548
I think this is different based on the levels. What I thought was important when dd was really young didn't mean as much to me later on. But in general:

- coach attitude / gym atmosphere
- commute
- hours (both by level and actual times - had other children in year round sports)
- coaches' willingness to continue learning (dd was in a young gym where coaches were learning as the gymnasts moved up the levels)
- coach/gymnast ratio
-practice productivity (coach ability to maintain control of the class)
 

LucyRobinson

Gymnast
Feb 27, 2022
124
GREAT thread!!!
Cost: low for rec classes... L2-3...Get a feel for gymnastics without going broke. For team, cost can be higher. Not crazy but we'd pay a bit more for quality training.
Hours/time: Our gym does great. 18 hrs max for L10s (we got 2). I won't go into all the exact hours but somewhere in the middle range. After school practice.
Location: within 30 min
Progress & coaches: I would want coaches...that know how to coach. It doesn't have to be an elite nationally ranked coach, but someone who has experience with the levels they are teaching. I would want to see that generally kids are moving up levels within 2 years and look like they are getting better.
Results: we are not in a competitive state but our team...consistently wins. I don't care about that really though. As long as the girls are progressing.
Size of team: small enough to know the girls but big enough to have role models
Scholarships: we have our first college gymnast this year. It is so cool to see and makes me have even more confidence in the program.
Coaches willingness to learn: I think the best coaches are always improving their methods.
Atmosphere: a great atmosphere is everything and we are so lucky in that aspect.
Coach athlete ratio: less than 8 in a group would be ideal to me.
Productive workouts would be a given to me.

We are blessed with a wonderful gym that is most of these things.
 

PreciousJ

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Feb 16, 2021
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Commute is a big one for me. Fortunately, DD's gym is 20 minutes away in "bad traffic". For the metro area where I live, that is **priceless**. It also happens to be a quality, competitive gym that meets my other criteria.
 
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Janneke

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2022
29
My main requirement is that my gymnast feels comfortable with her coaches. When she started, she had already gone to holiday programme of club A twice when they asked her to join their pre-comp team. Their hours were very inconvenient, so we tried club B that was both closer and had better hours at least for the first levels. After the very first session with club B, she came out and stated that she would never ever go back to club A. That was decider, even more so than distance and hours. I do also look at most of the other things, but those are nowhere near as important
 

gym_dad32608

Proud Parent
Aug 7, 2018
299
53
Assuming one's family is "in it", meaning we have moved past the, just trying out afterschool activities and on to, this is my sport and I love it. I am more of the, if you're in it, then you are in it. You do not half-azz things and expect great results. So ideal gym for us:
  1. Coach/gymnast/family relationship - the amount of time they and by extension us will be together is like another family member. Daughter has to trust coach in order for coaching to be most effective and we obviously have to trust coach with daughter.
  2. Historical results - I want a gym that has a track record of elites/scholarships/etc. That also means they have connections and relationships with college coaches and programs. This is invaluable when trying to figure out best fit if daughter is fortunate enough to be in that position.
  3. Facility - I loved the original Rocky movies and low-tech, grimy gym training regimen that Rocky used to make himself a champion, but that was a movie, not real life lol. So I want a gym that has updated equipment, with ample space and pits. If not updated, then well maintained, clean, orderly environment. It definitely says something about the gym, management, staff in how they present themselves.
    1. As a subset, the number of support staff which helps keep practices efficient and productive.
 

BusyMomof2

New Member
Feb 2, 2022
37
43
Commute is a big one for me. Fortunately, DD's gym is 20 minutes away in "bad traffic". For the metro area where I live, that is **priceless**. It also happens to be a quality, competitive gym that meets my other criteria.
YES! We're in an incredibly congested metro area and our gym is 8 miles away and takes me nearly an hour most days. It's ridiculous. I've gotten used to it and we enjoy our time in the car together but it's such a huge chunk of time on practice days.

For me, it's also supportive coaching (that remembers these are KIDS), team size, practice times/productive practices and good communication between coaches and parents (my daughter is the worst with relaying info!).
 

mommyof1

Proud Parent
Jan 31, 2012
2,536
The car
My ideal gym would be always be guided by the understanding that gymnasts and their families are human beings and that the gym exists to serve the gymnasts, not the other way around. From preschool rec through elite, the goal should always be to support the child’s development as a person and as an athlete for the benefit of the child. Unfortunately, many programs exist to serve the egos of coaches and owners. Even at the compulsory levels, which should be focused on building a strong foundation for long-term development, I have seen gyms engage in all kinds of manipulative and high-pressure behavior for the purpose of maximizing team meet scores, at the expense of children and families. Everyone blames crazy gym parents for the insanity that is lower-level gymnastics, but it is the gym that creates the environment that fosters the parents' attitudes and behaviors. At the elite and college levels, the root of all the highly publicized problems is ultimately the adult ego. Some of these adults want to win at any cost and think high-pressure tactics are the way to do it. Others just enjoy exerting power over young people.

One practical example: Why do gyms have daytime practices in the summer without any accommodations for working parents? Many families can only afford gymnastics because both parents work. It is extremely costly and demanding for working parents to find child care and transportation to enable an 8-year-old to practice for three or four hours in the middle of the workday. "Just hire a nanny" is not feasible in many cases because of cost and/or availability. If gym owners feel it necessary to have kids practice during the day, they need to offer a wraparound day camp program that allows kids to remain at the gym all day, coordinate with a nearby day camp to provide transportation and child care during non-gym hours, etc. Gyms don't bother to make these arrangements because the business is an oligopoly in which they hold all the power. My ideal gym wouldn't take advantage of that power asymmetry between the gym and the parents.
 

PreciousJ

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Feb 16, 2021
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... good communication between coaches and parents (my daughter is the worst with relaying info!).
That's where the parent network can come in again, LOL. I don't know how many times me and the parents of DD's teammates have pieced together messages that the coaches give to the kids. Then we laugh together about what the kids forgot. :)

(The gym is usually very good at communicating by email, but they may give the kids a heads-up message to share with us before they send out the official email. )
 
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MuggleMom

Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2016
757
Virginia
--Commute is big I joke with my kid that if the gym was any further away she would be playing soccer.
--Coaches willingness to communicate with Parents--will they schedule a meeting if there is an issue? Do they actually listen in said meeting? Are they willing to make changes because of said meeting? This has been huge for my family there have definitely been some miscommunication between coaches and my DD so being able to have a meeting to air things out has literally kept her from quitting and even better resulted in some real significant in the gym progress on skills.
--Uptraining. I see some local gyms that crush the compulsory levels but it seems to me their kids do little uptraining. That would get so boring. Those gyms also seem to have less kids move on to optionals.
--Flexibility in Skills trained especially at optional level. My kid wouldn't have been able to do level 8 this year if her coaches said BHS/BHS series or no level 8. And she crushed regionals. Their flexibility on skill requirements and willingness to find reasonable solutions is great. If the gym is only focused on winning and maximizing the gym score instead of getting the best score that particular gymnast is capable of I would not want to be at that gym and my kid wouldn't be successful at that gym.
---Flexibility with move up requirements- Much like the point above if you need higher move up scores than USAG requires you are not the gym for our family. Getting 2 37s or better at level 4 does not determine your ability to succeed in optionals etc. Had our gym had "higher" move up requirements my kid wouldn't have been able to move up. Being able to see that a kid may not have the skills in June but could have them by competition season is also important. Some gyms are just way to strict with their requirements and I think they miss out on some great athletes because of it.
--I wish our gym was better at communication. We get our schedules really late (in my opinion) and it makes planning for summer then for school more difficult. Especially if you are doing some off hours in the summer it takes a lot of planning to pull of summer schedules for working parents we need to know well in advance to make it work.
--Having a development plan for the gymnast is also important. I wish they were more proactive with communicating the plans for development and levels as well. They do seem to communicate that with the gymnasts but that gets lost in translation to parents a lot of the time and sometimes the gymnasts misunderstand the coach which can cause issues. I love that my kids coaches have a plan for her but its taken me reaching out to them to figure out what that plan is most of the time. They have gotten better with at least telling my kid the plan which is great now that she is older but at the lower levels it was hard to know what was going on.
--Lets gymnasts heal from injuries and believes kids when they say they are hurt/in pain. Our gym is great about following Drs orders understanding thier PT needs and what conditioning they can do in gym to maintain that relationship with friends on team. I have heard some horror stories about gyms that push kids back to early or belittle a kid for not being able to do things.
--How do they deal with mental blocks? You wont know this going into a gym but it if a gym doesnt treat a kid with blocks well it would be a gym I wouldnt want to be at.
 

mom2newgymnast

Proud Parent
Jul 8, 2014
1,247
48
This is a great question. And it does prove that everyone has different ideas about what makes a perfect gym.. :) And it certainly changes over time depending on your child's path in the sport.

I have a hard time articulating what makes a gym ideal to me. We've been at the same gym since the beginning for my daughter and I certainly know what I like and don't like about it. I don't believe that "perfect" exists and I guess as long as the good outweighs the bad (and as long as the bad doesn't include abuse)...

So the good at my daughter's gym is:

Convenient location and hours- it's about a 10-15 minute drive from school and from home. With practices every weekday starting at 3:30, I don't see how I would make it work otherwise. They have an evening group, even for the level 10s, and they start practice after school gets out. I'm so glad we don't have to choose between school and gymnastics.

Coaches that know my daughter and are invested in her - Honestly, there are times I don't really like my daughter's coaches. We aren't really friends and I don't try to be. Sometimes I complain about them. But at the end of the day, I trust them and I know that they are invested in her success and well being. Throughout her injuries and struggles, they have not given up on her nor pressured her to come back too soon. They listen to her and coach her in the way she responds to (which may not be the same way another gymnast needs to be coached).

A proven track record - Our gym knows what it takes to make it to D1 colleges. They are able to coach upper level gymnastics. This didn't matter to me when she was younger as much, but now I am glad that she isn't the only or first level 10 at her gym because I think all the others have made it easier for her and her peers to succeed. However, I am also glad that our coaches do not coach elite. I was never interested in that path for my daughter (luckily she wasn't either). I feel like it requires too much sacrifice (time, money, body). And I know a lot of gyms are successful at both, but I'm glad she is at a gym that doesn't train elite.

Atmosphere - My daughter has fun at practice. Not every day or every event, but she loves going. They play music and chat freely. They have contests and try and make practices more interesting by having different assignments and competitions. Most days she leaves practice tired but happy. I wish there was more team building activities outside of the gym, but that's not the gym's responsibility.

Things I don't like:

Communication - It's gotten a little better, but still isn't perfect. My biggest complaint here is when they decide to let practice out early or change the times of practice with hardly any notice. Nothing like getting a text from your daughter saying practice ends in 30 minutes.. when you are more than 30 minutes away or in the middle of something. So inconvenient! Also, now that my daughter is older, I really have no idea what she is working on or how she is doing day to day. We have meetings a couple of times a year, but I do think they rely on her telling me how things are going, when she usually doesn't.

There's probably more, but I've already written a book. :)
 

ProudGymnast

Gymnast
Fan
Feb 16, 2021
115
Qualities that my ideal coach would possess:

-If I'm having a mental block on a skill, or it just wasn't clicking, then I expect my coach to make a plan. Not just sit there watching me, telling me the same correction over and over again. It did not help me the first 20 times it will not help now. I witnessed an older gymnast stuck in L7 because she could not get giants. This is like 2ish years, struggling with her giants. The coach never did anything different, only told her to "tap over the bar" and let her try it hundreds of times on the pit bar without her making it. She quit after her second year because she coudln't go to 8 because of her giants. I'm not okay with that. If you're my coach and I'm paying expensive tuition than I expect you to work with me and figure out a strategy, a drill, or ANYTHING different if what I'm doing is not working.

- If you give me a correction show me how to make that correction. For me, at least, I probably already know that I'm doing that thing wrong, but I don't know how to fix it.

-Work with me and my goals and aspirations. I dream big but I also work hard, and I want a coach who sees the potential in me and is willing to work with me to make my goals happen.

-I expect my coach to be, not sure the word I'm exactly looking for, but self aware? As in, if everyone is getting overuse injuries, something needs to change whether that is numbers or conditioning.

-If you screw up, please admit it and don't blame it on the gymnast.

-Not everyone is going to learn a skill the same way. Recognize that we are all individuals and need different things from you. Ex: If Suzie doesn't work well with the "just go for it" technique for twisting, then don't try to teach Suzie twisting with the "just go for it" technique.


I could go on and on, but those are top things for me.
 

gymgal

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Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,548
My ideal gym would be always be guided by the understanding that gymnasts and their families are human beings and that the gym exists to serve the gymnasts, not the other way around. From preschool rec through elite, the goal should always be to support the child’s development as a person and as an athlete for the benefit of the child. Unfortunately, many programs exist to serve the egos of coaches and owners. Even at the compulsory levels, which should be focused on building a strong foundation for long-term development, I have seen gyms engage in all kinds of manipulative and high-pressure behavior for the purpose of maximizing team meet scores, at the expense of children and families. Everyone blames crazy gym parents for the insanity that is lower-level gymnastics, but it is the gym that creates the environment that fosters the parents' attitudes and behaviors. At the elite and college levels, the root of all the highly publicized problems is ultimately the adult ego. Some of these adults want to win at any cost and think high-pressure tactics are the way to do it. Others just enjoy exerting power over young people.

One practical example: Why do gyms have daytime practices in the summer without any accommodations for working parents? Many families can only afford gymnastics because both parents work. It is extremely costly and demanding for working parents to find child care and transportation to enable an 8-year-old to practice for three or four hours in the middle of the workday. "Just hire a nanny" is not feasible in many cases because of cost and/or availability. If gym owners feel it necessary to have kids practice during the day, they need to offer a wraparound day camp program that allows kids to remain at the gym all day, coordinate with a nearby day camp to provide transportation and child care during non-gym hours, etc. Gyms don't bother to make these arrangements because the business is an oligopoly in which they hold all the power. My ideal gym wouldn't take advantage of that power asymmetry between the gym and the parents.
Around here, the wrap around programs are fairly common at the local gyms. We never needed to use it but it was very popular with other families.
 
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JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
64
This is a tough one. We’ve been through three gyms.

Gym 1 regularly trained elites. The coaching was excellent from what I could see but the older girls would regularly break down crying if they botched a tumbling pass while the head coach was watching.

Gym 2 was not a USAG facility. The coaching was poor to dangerous but they were inclusive about who they let on team and some of the coaches were fun.

Gym 3 I don’t think has ever trained an elite but they do seem to send girls to D1 and they’re a top 2 team at the compulsory level.

I think my ideal gym would be the best of all three combined. I think training gymnastics at the highest level possible shouldn’t be mutually exclusive to having fun. Also, the obsession with compulsory placing seems counter to skill progression.
 

LCsMom

Proud Parent
Oct 27, 2020
16
48
Commute, for sure: We're lucky to have a gym in the same town I work in and that my kid will go to high school in. If we had to go further afield I'm not sure I'd be able to swing the hours.
Coach attitude/aptitude: Our coaches are nurturing, encouraging, positive, and also push those willing to be pushed. I think that's the key there. My kid is one of those willing to be pushed. We went to Regionals recently and saw some coaches I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot stick. Mean people who didn't understand that at the end of the day, they were coaching children. And their athletes didn't score well either.
Facilities: I could wish for a better space. Our gym is located in an old 50's style rec center, with low ceilings and very little space to expand. No pit, and an area in the ceiling cut out so that kids can do giants.
Cost: I always wish it could be lower. But she chose an expensive sport, and she's good at it.
Future: Well, I doubt we're going to the Olympics or even D1 unless someone rich wants to sponsor my kid. But I think she's laying a future for herself: she's an awesome athlete and she's also top of her class. Somewhere in there an adult with super-powers will emerge. I have full confidence of that and it doesn't necessarily end up having anything to do with gymnastics.
 

PeanutsMom

Proud Parent
Jun 14, 2019
179
We have been at a couple of gyms, so I feel that we have seen more than one good or bad.

Coaches:
Need to be inclusive, not have favorites that they are trying to fast track at the expense of everyone else on team. If you have a super star, great, but do the privates, do the extra practices when you can focus on them. The whole team pays for a coach to coach, not just that one kid who is going to be the youngest level 10 or elite. Have balance with all your kids on team.
Coaches also need to have experience. We had one coach that said they were level 9, but came to find out she was only ever level 6/XCEL gold and she couldn't teach higher level skills because she had never done them. Therefore, my DD made no progress. We paid for coaching and didn't get it.

Gym: Needs to have equipment that will support/train a gymnast safely. That means lower impact during off season (a tumble trak, rod floor, pits. A bar pit, vault pit.) My daughter's back injury likely could have been less severe if she wasn't on a competition surface for every landing at every practice. This is one of the reasons we switched gyms. She is training level 8 learning double backs on bar and they wanted her to do it onto an 8 inch mat without any regards for safety. This did not sit well with me. There was also no hand mat for her yurchenko (we purchased it for the gym so she had one). Lack of equipment was a real red flag.

Teammates: I don't care if they win. Are they supportive? Do they try to undermine their teammate if they are winning and they are not? I really wish more club teams were like college teams rather than stressing the individual. So many girls, so many mean girl tendencies, and a team outlook is very refreshing.

And for my gymnast, I want to see a place where she is encouraged to be her best. Where her accomplishments, no matter how small are celebrated. I want an environment that makes it okay to fail and learn. I want her to feel confident enough to make mistakes and try again. I want her to learn to win with grace and LOSE with grace. I want her to learn resiliency. Gymnastics is a sport. She will never go to the Olympics. She won't go to college on a scholarship (she is a 13 year old second year level 7 who will likely be competing level 7 again while training level 8..she will be lucky to make it to level 10). However, I want her to be proud of all she has accomplished and know that many athletes never get as far as she has even if it is only level 8 or level 9.
 

Em09

Gymnast
Fan
Oct 13, 2020
139
19
Australia
Commute, maybe twenty minutes at most.
Coaches, love them, like my second parents, they KNOW what they're doing.
History, we've got multiple elites, including an Olympian, Beam World Champion, many have been to Olympic Trials, etc.
Space, awesome. High ceilings. Trampolines, harness, 7 Olympic trampolines, a floor tramp, tumble track, air track, ropes, etc. It is GIANT. Pictures attached.
Atmosphere, awesome. At competitions we all cheer for each other, record each others routine, scream for each when we salute, at the last competition we looked through the tiny holes in the dividing curtain to watch one another while we were in the warming up area so we could see them compete, when it finished we'd rush over to them and hi 5, then all wait for their scores watching the screen in the warm up area. Seriously, the relationship between the athletes and the coaches is incredible. It's the same in practice.
Cost: Think its pretty low for the level I'm not really sure.

I love my gym, wouldn't want to go anywhere else.
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PreciousJ

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Feb 16, 2021
426
USA
Teammates: I don't care if they win. Are they supportive? Do they try to undermine their teammate if they are winning and they are not? I really wish more club teams were like college teams rather than stressing the individual. So many girls, so many mean girl tendencies, and a team outlook is very refreshing.
YES! I love that my daughter's team is like this. Some girls are more competitive than others, but they're not *competing* against one another, if that makes sense. They spend most of their down time at practice and meets talking or being silly with each other, and they have nicknames for one another that they shout out at meets. I love to see it. Our gym strongly encourages a team atmosphere.
 
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